Padre Pio has long been a household name in Italy. Born in the village of Pietrelcina, some 80 km north-east of Naples in 1887, he entered the Capuchin order at the age of fifteen and was ordained a priest in the lineage of Saint Francis of Assisi eight years later, in 1910. Like Saint Francis, he was eventually to be marked by the stigmata - the physical wounds of Christ - on his hands, his feet and his chest. He was the first priest in the history of Catholicism to receive such a charism. Like both Jesus of Nazareth and Saint Francis of Assisi before him, Padre Pio's life overturned all notions of conventionality and normality. Strange things happened when one was in his presence. The impossible was a commonplace in many of his encounters.
Numerous books and resources describe and detail the unusual attributes of this remarkable man. For some, they may serve to inspire and sustain faith in the existence of a transcendental dimension and a deeper purpose within human life. For others, they may represent the final gasps of medieval superstition in an age where the rule of reason has declared the end of history and claimed for itself a technologically-mediated theosis. Yet others - possibly the majority - dismiss such accounts absolutely, considering them to be mere fables or outright lies.
The meaning of the life of Padre Pio cannot be fully encompassed by knowing his story or the range of his spiritual gifts. It is only in the context of his day-to-day influence on the lives of those who knew him and loved him that one can begin to form a coherent understanding of the man and of his mission. The reminiscences and stories of those who were close to him will provide far more light than any formal examination of the many available histories and commentaries that attempt to describe his life and detail his attributes. One such story is offered by Giuseppe Caccioppoli, a spiritual son of Padre Pio.
An English-language essay drawn largely from Giuseppe Caccioppoli's remembrances in his 2013 interview with PadrePio tv can be accessed in PDF form from the DOWNLOAD OPTIONS column opposite.